Apparently this is a common practice, and Newsom argues that it lacks transparency. Lobbyists get to say tell the board what they really think — or tell them what to do — without the public being any the wiser.
There are a few options: banning texting entirely, just banning it between board members and lobbyists, and banning the use of laptops — which, after all, could be used to send IMs or update Facebook or whatever.
San Jose passed something similar last week, requiring public disclosure of texts or emails sent during meetings.
Of course, in L.A. the council members could just step into a back room and talk face-to-face.